Going for employment gold: top tips to ensure workplace compliance during a summer of sport

18 July, 2016
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Olympic RingsThe summer’s sporting events are already well underway with the UEFA Euro 2016, Wimbledon and the F1 at Silverstone already having taken place. But with the Olympics and Para-Olympics still to come, how do employers ensure that attendance and productivity are maintained? Here are 5 issues that employers need to consider:

  1. Requests for annual leave

All employers should have an annual leave policy in place and all requests should be dealt with fairly and consistently. Where employees make last minute requests, perhaps to see the unexpected progress of a specific team, employers could consider the requests on a first come, first served basis, taking into account the needs of the business, the specific department as well as any other employee absences which have already been booked off.

  1. Managing sickness absences

Robust sickness absence policies will obviously still apply. Should employees fall foul of these with sudden unauthorised absences, a consistent and low tolerance approach should be adopted. Where appropriate, any suspect or unapproved absences should be monitored and if necessary, steps should be taken under the company’s disciplinary procedure.

  1. Internet and social media use at work

During high profile events there is likely to be an increased use of social media by employees and a desire to stream some events on various sporting websites. It is advisable that employers have a policy in place regarding website usage which makes it expressly clear what is, and what is not acceptable. It may be worth gently reminding employees of this policy ahead of any big events.

  1. Risks of discrimination

Employers should be careful in considering absence requests and which sporting events to screen at work to ensure that no groups are disadvantaged or feel in anyway side-lined by the company’s policies. This is particularly pertinent with regards to foreign employees. Employers should not fail to acknowledge the fact that some employees may wish to watch another nationality’s team and should be given the same rights to do this as those who request time off to watch Great Britain.

Additionally, a zero tolerance approach should be taken to any conduct that could amount to harassment or racism. This includes discussions either in the workplace or at work-related events, in which any employee makes depreciating comments about another nation’s performance which could be considered offensive.

  1. Flexibility with working shifts

Lastly, allowing flexible working patterns can pay dividends in employer/employee relations. For employers with mandatory staffing requirements, this may not be possible. However, most employers should be able to make some small adjustments to ensure staff morale is boosted. This may involve offering to screen tournaments or allowing employees to schedule their breaks to coincide with events that they want to watch. Each employer will have different requirements and needs, meaning that flexibility will be harder to achieve for some employers than for others. However, in most cases, if employers and employees communicate and plan ahead, the summer of sports could be a win/win for both parties.